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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Dub review - April 2009

Horace Andy & Ashley Beedle
Rasta Don’t / Rasta Don’t Dub
Strut mp3/flacc
A taster for the soon come album in Strut’s Inspiration Information series, a collaboration between Ashley Beedle and foundation reggae vocalist Horace Andy. Beedle’s main reputation maybe unfairly built around his shiny 4/4 remixes of passing dance trade over the years, but the roots of this North London soulboy go back to the 80s when he and his mates ran the Shock sound system and, though a underlying love of reggae has always been there, variants of soul have always dominated his output. The lyrics of this tunes turn out as a good humoured listing of the foods that a good Rastaman will not allow past his lips (…”don’t want no finger lickin’ … no big belly … no tripe an beans …”); the veteran Studio One singer sounds positively youthful chanting on a stripped back metallic rhythm of the currently favoured bhangra percussion - Beedle’s first venture into dancehall.

Johnny Clarke
Dancehall Selection with Deejays and Dubs
Attack CD/mp3
Bunny Lee reshuffles his Johnny Clarke catalogue for this “showcase plus” set where the odd deejay version is slotted between the vocal and dub. This has best worked in the recent past with the excellent Harry Hawke selections on I Roy and Big Youth toasts, for the now seemingly dormant Trojan, where the original vocals were sourced along with the dubs. Of course, Johnny Clarke was Bunny Lee’s most used in
house vocalist through the roots period and the tunes here are amongst the singers finest and although re-issued many times over the years its useful to have them in this presentation. The standout here is “Move Out of Zion High” the deejay cut to “Move Out of Babylon” with the theme of too much commercialisation of Rastafari where there’s constant interplay between two uncredited DJs – one sounding like Big
Youth – and the vocal, U Roy’s joyous “Rock with I” follows “Rock with Me Baby” and its always great to hear King Tubby’s jaw-droppingly awesome mix of “Poor Marcus Garvey Dub” better known as “21 Gun Salute to Bother Marcus” where the dubmaster swipes the echo spring to thunderous effect on the version of the Mighty Diamonds’ “Poor Marcus”.

Little Angel (with Paul St. Hilaire / Angel Dub)
Echospace 12”/mp3
Berlin and Detroit are often referenced together as existing on the same sonic meridian, although there are clear and well-established relationships there are equally marked distinctions with the former being described as ‘black and grey’ but the latter ‘brown and red’. Certainly Stephen Hitchell provides a much warmer housing for St. Hilaire’s sumptuous rootsy vocals, the singer sounds like he’s arrived home. Heavy waves of sluicing radio white-out ambience lap around the
rhythm of “Little Angel” bringing back some Badalmetiesque Twin Peaks overtones before the ex-Tikiman enters with an achingly crossover lovers vocal – saying this is his best collaboration effort to date is the highest praise. The deeper drummed-up dub companion that follows would have been argument enough but the triumphal quick stepper “A Night to Remember” and mp3 bonus track “Kingston’s Burning Dub” has Intrusion standing alone colossus-like astride the gap between the
warmth of dub and the ice of techno.

Derrick Laro and Trinity
Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough / And Even Then Keep Going
Joe Gibbs 12”
Back in the early eighties when the prediction of the death of reggae really meant the closure of the roots era, tunes like this treatment of the Michael Jackson classic disco hit were bouncing around the streets of London and the ping of syndrums was in the air. Subsequently it became seen as not too hip or smart to get off on crossover reggae as the Thatcher years rolled on and the revive era reverted directly to deep roots. The past few years, thanks largely to Soul Jazz Records who included this cut on their super cool reggae disco set “Hustle”, has brought about a less conscious approach to the early eighties and these tunes are once more perceived as fresh, unhindered by social content and sonically bursting with ideas. The original is from a Joe Gibbs twelve inch with a looping bumped rhythm,
wah wahs, cowbells and chunky guitar chops which all make a rich stew of ingredients for the great dub on the flip!

Niney the Observer
Roots With Quality
17 North Parade / VP Records 2CD
Most famously dubbed “Nine Finger Jerry Lewis” by his one-time collaborator, Scratch – who he replaced at Joe Gibbs as chief sound engineer, Winston Holness used the taunt to later advantage as a byline on many of his roots releases. On leaving Gibbs he immediately went on to produce the epochal “Blood and Fire”, joined on vocals by
Bunny Lee and Scratch. The single, which kicks off this excellent compilation, went on to sell over thirty thousand copies in Jamaica and announced the arrival of the roots revolution where matters of social consciousness and political commentary became the subject of popular music of the day. The Niney used Soul Syndicate as his house band but re-named them as the Observers, Tubby’s studio was chosen for
mixdown and on many occasions rhythms were generated at the Black Ark with the imprimatur of Perry was unmistakable – as on Dennis Brown’s “Wolf & Leopards” here with its rolling nyabinghi drum version, Bongo Herman’s “Nosey Joe”. Past compilations of Winston Holness’ work have tended to concentrate on one particular area such as dubs or roots, but this selection provides about the best overview of his substantial contribution to reggae music to date. Also here are Delroy Wilson, the Heptones, Johnny Clarke, Slim Smith, Jacob Miller, Junior Delgado,
Freddie McGregor and many others all in prime form.

Max Turner
Infinite 4x4 (Folklore Rhythm) / Version
Metabooty 7”
The last we saw of Max Turner, the Scottish-German twisted lyricist and producer of perky beats, was “Dub the Mighty Dragon” his Meteorites collaboration with Marcus Rossknecht for Christian Vogel’s Riserobotsrise Records in 2003. That one sounded like a digital cross between Lynford Anderson’s Andy Capp sides and Ray Hurford’s Small Axe People; this one, produced from his Barcelona home/studio base and released records on his own Metabooty imprint, moves forward in reggae history and is equivalent to an amphetamined Jazzbo Ujama dub from the mid Eighties crossed with the Magic Roundabout theme and rounded off at the edges with a Cornershop style vocal full of oblique and inconsequential but seductive cultural references and non-sequiturs. A dub oddity, irresistibly stupid.

Alpha & Omega
Songs from the Holy Mountain
Alpha & Omega CD
It’s now almost twenty years since the debut album from Christine Woodbridge and John Sprosen aka Alpha & Omega, in that time their basic vision and intent has shifted only via the addition of the odd bit of technology, vocalists and colour added to the album artwork. But drop an A&O track and recognition is immediate, despite the mass of nu roots and dub outfits joining the fray in the intervening years. This new album from features vocalists Jonah Dan, Paul Fox and Italian roots singer Dan I with an entire dub set following on from the vocals all in the modern roots style in which they were the vanguard. “To Know and Not to Believe” with Dan I and dubbed as “Free at Last Dub” has a departure in the mix as the duo some for some grain and glitch as a sampled voice is laid over crunching steppers with repeatedly
splayed delays and the last two tracks contrast in both vocal and dub versions, the title is mixed by Jonah Dan in a much more restrained style whilst closer “Tables Has Turned”/”Hail the Dub” test the full range of sonic response with an abstract dub getting near white noise at times.

Lee "Scratch" Perry & Adrian Sherwood
Beat Records (Japan) / On U Sound Records (UK)
Perry and Sherwood were late in constructing the last corner of their dub trinity, nearly twenty years following Time Boom X de Devil Dead and Secret Laboratory came The Mighty Upsetter; those first two were bankrolled by EMI and Island respectively, these days for the third its back to a cottage industry, likewise with the dubstrumental companion set Dubsetter - out now in Japan and May for the UK.
Although times are lean the work is anything but stripped down dub, Sherwood has laid layers of lavish sonics into the channels either side of drum and bass; also every time Perry has worked with Sherwood the lyrics have been sharper than the verbal mush he trades elsewhere cf. the recent Andrew WK collaboration, so the lines isolated for dubbing seem custom built. The original concept was a refurbishing of
some old Perry classics: Devon Irons’ "When Jah Come", Perry’s own "Bird In Hand" and “Blackboard Jungle Dub" and Leroy Sibbles’ "Garden Of Life"; but the dub set is well-removed from the sources with only two or three of those nuggets shining through, notably “Wake Up Call” derived from the Silvertones magnificent “Rejoicing Dub”. As with most great dub sets its just fun to match these up and trace the lineage, this will keep Scrath fans busy for months.